What Are the Unique Struggles for Women in Recovery?

Anyone struggling with an addiction can experience an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Addiction erodes your self-worth so dramatically, you may feel you’re not worthy of anything better than addiction.

The emotional stranglehold addiction has can be even greater for women. Everyone suffering from a substance use disorder may have struggles with addiction recovery. However, there are some challenges that are unique to women. Let’s look at some unique struggles for women in recovery.

Rapid Progression

Alcohol and drug addiction are progressive diseases. This is not only true in how rapidly you build up a dangerous tolerance level, but also addresses what happens when you stop for a period and then relapse.

There is a reference that the disease is out there doing pushups just waiting for you to relapse. Most addicts and alcoholics can appreciate how the levels of tolerance increase the more you continue to drink or use.

However, grasping the idea that it will take very little time at all to return to a dangerous level of addiction is difficult. Many alcoholics and drug addicts fail to appreciate this until it’s too late. The disease of addiction seems to be even more progressive in women than in men.

When you combine these two factors of a progressive disease, it should impress upon you two key points. Women develop dangerous dependence levels faster than men, and often by consuming far fewer drugs or less alcohol.

This means the recovery focus of women must accept the physical and emotional risk of relapse. When the levels of physical and psychological dependency are greater, the risk of relapse will be greater.

Physical Damage

Without taking a full course in female biology, it should be simple enough to appreciate that certain internal organs of women are slightly more fragile than those of men. It is, of course, a physiological generalization when looked at based on nothing but human anatomy.

However, studies have proven that the effects of drug and alcohol abuse do more damage, and the damage can happen faster in women. Thankfully, the health damage caused to women by prolonged alcohol or drug abuse can often be healed.

Even the emotional scars of addiction can heal. However, there is one unique challenge that women must overcome to live a clean and sober life. The challenge of other’s perceptions about your disease is out of your control, but it should never prevent you from seeking help.

Public Perceptions Towards Addiction Recovery

Despite a gradually improved sense of awareness of the struggles of addiction, problems with drug and alcohol abuse still carry a negative stigma. Frequently, these negative judgments are even harsher towards women.

Many without any experience dealing with the magnetizing lure of an addiction cannot understand why an alcoholic or drug addict can’t just stop. These sentiments are even stronger for women, especially women with families.

There is also an unwritten public perception that men are somehow entitled to use and abuse drugs and alcohol. It’s just the man thing to do. That is not the common viewpoint for females. The wealth of negative social judgments around a woman caught up in an addictive lifestyle are vast.

People of both genders, regardless of ethnicity, are good people who simply need help getting well. It’s unfortunate that the public perception surrounding drug and alcohol abuse makes it more difficult for women to step forward and ask for help.

Through all the physical challenges and emotional differences between men and women in addiction recovery, battling the public perception of addiction may be the biggest hurdle for women to overcome. It doesn’t have to be. There are choices for women in recovery.

Choices for Women in Recovery

If you’re struggling with an addiction, whether you’re a man or a woman, there is hope. That hope is found in recovery. There are special environments for women that can help you deal with many of the unique challenges facing women who want to recover.

NRhythm is a sober living community located in Nashville, Tennessee. Our team of recovery professionals is passionate about helping both men and women overcome addiction so that they are free to be the best versions of themselves. For anyone battling alcoholism or drug addiction, help is a phone call away.

We are here to help those affected by Covid-19. If you need support during this time, book a teletherapy session or an online wellness check-in with us.

Got it!